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X ! A A< X 



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FARMERS 
BULLETIN 
NO. 1832 



/ sT \ is/ 

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



A GOOD FARM FENCE adds greatly to the attractiveness 
of a farmstead, is a mark of thrift, and is an important item 
in farm management since fences may be used to protect farm 
properties and reduce losses of both crops and livestock. 

Made mostly of rails, boards, stone, or hedge a hundred years 
ago, farm fences are now largely of barbed or woven wire, but 
the old-time materials are still in use. There are steel posts 
and posts of concrete, and new treatments are making wood 
posts more durable and making possible the use of different 
kinds of woods. 

Lately the electric fence has aroused interest in many parts 
of the country, but the safety factors have not been thoroughly 
worked out and standardized, a fact that makes it doubly im- 
portant for farmers to acquaint themselves with their own 
State recommendations and to observe precautions. 

Fast -moving motor traffic has introduced new hazards for 
those using farmstead and field entrances, and designs for 
approaches are being changed in consequence. Motor vehicles 
and tractors have also created a greater demand for automatic 
gates and livestock guards. 



Washington, D. C. 



Issued January, 1940 



FARM FENCES 



U. S. HORTICULTURAL STATION 
RECEIVED 

it MAR- -1940 ft 

LIBRARY 
BELTSVILLE. MARYLAND 



By M. A. R. Kelley, agricultural engineer y Division of Structures, Bureau of Agri- 
cultural Chemistry and Engineering 



CONTENTS 



Page 

Introduction 1 

Kinds of fences 2 

Rail fences 2 

Board fences 5 

Stone fences 5 

Barbed wire and woven- wire fences 5 

Electric fences 18 

Fence posts 20 

Wood posts 20 

Metal posts 23 

Concrete posts 27 

Wire and post fasteners 27 

Spacing of posts 29 



Page 



Life of fences 31 

Cost of fencing 32 

Construction methods 34 

Bracing posts 35 

Post anchors 38 

Splicing 40 

Unrolling and stretching woven-wire fence 42 

Lightning protection 44 

Gates and entrances 44 

Bracing gates . 49 

Cattle guards and automatic gates 52 

Gateposts and hardware 55 

Maintenance of fences 56 



INTRODUCTION 

FENCES have grown up with the country. Changes in the material 
used in their construction coincide with industrial developments 
and with the spread of agriculture to regions varying in natural re- 
sources and conditions. Colonial farmers fenced with stone walls 
when they needed a convenient place to pile the stone removed from 
fields, or they used rails and sometimes the uprooted stumps of trees 
piled in a tangled row. Hedges were used rather early, and George 
Washington's interest in them as a means of stopping breachy cattle 
led him to import seedlings and to try out several promising shrubs 
and trees. 

The invention of machinery for the manufacture of wire at low cost 
greatly increased the use of barbed-wire and woven-wire fences. In 
1874, 5 tons or 10 miles, of barbed wire were manufactured. Ten 
years later the quantity had increased to 62,500 tons, or 250,000 
miles. In 1935, 51 years later, according to United States census, 
195,996 tons of barbed wire, valued at $10,772,272 was manufactured; 
33,992 tons of poultry netting, valued at $3,868,750; and 229,137 tons 
of woven wire, valued at $17,338,853. The earlier wire weighed 
approximately 1,000 pounds per mile, whereas that now made weighs 
400 pounds. The heavier wire probably had longer life, but it also 
cost more than the light wire now sold. In the early days, the cost of 
fencing was almost prohibitive, often more than the lands or cattle 
were worth; hence cowboys or shepherds tended the herds or flocks. 
Cheapening the cost of production and improving the designs have 
made simple fencing generally available. 

A well-built fence is good insurance against lawsuits and promotes 
good relationship between neighbors by avoiding petty annoyances. 



1 



2 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



The laws of most States define what constitutes a legal partition fence, 
a fence along a highway, or adjacent to a railway. However, no 
general laws are in effect, and local sources must be consulted. 

Midwestern States, because of the large areas requiring fencing, 
are inclined to be liberal but in most cases hold the owner liable for 
any damage done by his livestock. The motorist in the Southern 
States is well advised to avoid the killing of livestock on highways 
both because of risk to his own property and life and also because of 
the high cost of damage suits. Livestock on the arterial highways are 
all too common and are always a menace, but laws relating thereto 
vary considerably in the different States. 

In certain areas where little livestock is kept, fences along highways 
are omitted and crops are grown up to the right-of-way. 

Serious problems are introduced by high-speed traffic on highways. 
Although paved highways are very helpful in hauling crops to market, 
the farmer finds it increasingly difficult to provide safe entrance or 
exit from fields along the highway. To reduce these risks he must 
carefully select the locations of exits and often make lanes to and from 
the pastures. 

The area of land occupied by fences is an important factor in the 
selection of the type of fencing, particularly if the land is of high 
value. In marginal, cut-over, and low-priced land, the unit cost of 
fencing is of more importance than the type. The amount of land 
used by fences varies with the type of fence, size of field, and kind of 
crop grown. Cultivated row crops require wider strips for turning 
implements than do hay or grain crops, since a mower or binder can 
cut close to the fence line. Little land is wasted where pasture or 
orchards are divided by wire fences. Woven-wire or smooth- wire 
fences require less turning space than barbed wire, while stone, hedge, 
and rail fences require strips varying from 6 to 10 feet or more. A 
surprising amount of hedge fence is still used notwithstanding the 
wide strips of land they render unfit for crops. Hedge, stone, and 
rail fences have high maintenance cost for trimming and for clearing 
of brush and weeds. 

KINDS OF FENCES 

RAIL FENCES 

The zigzag, worm, or Virginia rail fence, as it is variously named, 
is found in most States east of the Missouri River and in some of the 
Western States. When well-built on a solid footing, it is substantial, 
and where labor and wood are plentiful it makes a cheap fence. It is 
useful as a temporary fence since it may be moved as the fields are 
cleared or extended. 

The stability of a rail fence depends on the manner of bracing. 
Figure 1 shows different types of rail fences. The zigzag type, A and 
B, are the most common in southern areas. They are built 6 to 11 rails 
high with two braces or stakes either in the angles or corners. The 
rails are usually 1 1 feet long and are laid at an angle which advances 
the fence 8 feet. A width of base of 4% to 5 feet is necessary to 
withstand high winds. The heaviest rails are placed on top to give 
added weight and decrease breakage from chmbing the fence. 

Stakes are also used with straight rail fences (fig. 1, C). The 
stakes are tied together with wire, usually in three places. The fence 



FARM FENCES 



3 




Figure 1. — A, A high zigzag rail fence having 11 rails and braces in the angle; 
B f a rail fence of average height with stakes in the corners; C, a straight rail 
fence with stakes driven and wired together; D t chestnut rails in mortised posts. 



4 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 





Figure 2. — A, A board fence and posts treated with creosote — boards are 
removable; B y a substantial plank fence around a barn lot. Note the joint? 
on alternate posts ; C, a common design for a five-board fence with cleat boards 
and post caps. 



FARM FENCES 



O 



line in this case requires fewer rails per mile and is easier to keep 
clean, and less ground is wasted than with the zigzag form. Figure 
1, D, shows another form of straight rail fence with mortised wood 
posts. Concrete posts are sometimes used. 

BOARD FENCES 

Many board fences are found in Virginia and Kentucky, particu- 
larly where horses are raised extensively. When painted white or 
whitewashed, such fences make an attractive framing for a farmstead. 
Painting adds to the cost of maintaining them. 1 The boards and 
posts are sometimes creosoted; this increases their durability but 
gives the fence a less attractive appearance. A special cleat having 
bored holes through which sixtypenny spikes are driven to clamp and 
support the boards is shown in figure 2, A. In case of fire or for other 
reasons, the cleats may be easily loosened and the boards removed. 
The use and position of the double board at the bottom lessens the 
danger of injuries to horses' legs. 

When planks are used, three to six planks are well spiked or bolted 
to a substantial post to form a safe fence for a paddock or barn lot 
(fig. 2, B). Planks should be on the paddock side of the post to 
prevent loosening by stock crowding against the fence. One-inch 
boards 6 or 8 inches wide are nailed on with tenpenny galvanized or 
cut nails, which last longer than common wire nails and are less likely 
to split the board. Four to six boards are commonly used in a single 
panel. With the lighter boards, cleats and post caps are often used 
(fig. 2, G). For paddocks a cap board extending from post to post 
is sometimes used. 

STONE FENCES 

Stone fences are as varied as the kinds of stone available for their 
construction. In portions of the Atlantic Coast States more than 30 
percent of the fences are of stone. Stone fences harbor vermin and 
pests and are difficult to keep free from trash, brush, and weeds. 
They vary in height from 3^ to 5 feet depending upon the livestock 
confined. They should be built on a substantial and well-drained 
foundation. Stone fences are made with loose flat, or quarried stone 
or field boulders. To lay a loose stone fence and to properly tie and 
chink the large stones with smaller ones requires some skill. Stone 
fences may be made with full mortar joints or occasional mortar ties. 
Various styles of construction are shown in figure 3. 

BARBED-WIRE AND WOVEN-WIRE FENCES 

The two most important types of farm fences are barbed wire and 
woven wire. Barbed-wire fences are especially useful in areas where 
stone and timber are scarce. A survey made in Illinois in 1929 
revealed that barbed wire constituted 61 percent of the fences on 
grain farms, 77 percent on general farms, and 79 percent on dairy 
farms, while on hog farms 52 percent of the fences contained some 
woven wire in their construction (see table 9, p. 31). Barbed wire 
predominates in most livestock areas. 



1 See Farmers' Bulletin 1452, Painting on the Farm. 



6 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 




Figure 3.-^4, A Virginia fence of loose stones with stakes and riders to increase 
height; J5, a combination board and loose stone fence; C, a fence of limestone 
with an occasional mortar tie and a top. dressing. 



FARM FENCES 



BARBED WIRE 



There are seven principal styles of barbed wire. Standard gage of 
wire strands are 12 and 12% with a 14-gage wire for the barbs. Some 
manufacturers also make a two- and four-point light-gage wire with 
strands of No. 14 wire. In table 1 it is noted that barbed wire is 
made with both two and four points spaced 3 or 4 inches apart for hog 
wire and 5 or 6 inches for cattle wire. Flat barbs usually are obtain- 
able only in two-point form. Short- and long-point barbs are avail- 
able to a limited extent. The styles shown in table 1 seem ample to 
meet all ordinary needs of the farm, and it appears likely that the 
number of these styles will be reduced in the future. Flat ribbon wire 
is used for horse enclosures and by some railroads. Table 2 gives 
data regarding various sizes of wire used for fences. 

Table 1. —Specifications of barbed wire commonly used for farm fencing 



Barbs 



Points 
(number) 



Shape 



Round 

-do... 

. do 
Flat 



Inches 

3 (hog)... 
5 (cattle) . 

3 (hog)... 

5 (cattle) . 

4 (hog)... 
G (cattle) . 
4 (hog)... 

6 (cattle) . 
/3 (hog)... 
\5 (cattle). 
f3 (hog)... 
1 5 (cattle) . 



Wire gage 

Barbs 



Strand 
No. 

J n 

\ » 

} V2V 2 
} 12fc 
} 12H 



No. 
i 14 



Points 
(number) 



No barbs. 



Barbs 
Shape 

Half round 

do 
Round 
do 

f2 strands, 
\ twisled. 



Inches 
3 (hog) 
5 (cattle) 
/3 (hog)___ 
\r> (cattle). 
'3 (hog)... 
5 (cattle) . 
'3 (hog).. 
5 (cattle) 



Wire gape 



Strand 

No. 
} 12H 
} 12H 

} •« 



} 

{- 11 



Barbs 
No. 

14 
14 
2 10 



i Styles shown in these groups meet Federal Standard Specifications RR -F -221, adopted May 1934. 
» Provides lighter than standard weight for special uses. 

Table 2. — Sizes and weights of wire commonly used in farm fencing 



Gage No. 



10. _ 
11.. 
12.. 
12H. 
13_. 
14. . 
14K 
19.. 
20_. 











Weight per— 


diameter 


Surface are i 


Weight per 


Length per 
pound 






per pound 


100 feet 












Mile 


Rod 












~; 


Inches 


Square feet 


Pounds 


Feet 


Pounds 


Pounds 


0. 1483 


0.66 


5. 87 


17. 05 


309. 7 


0. 97 


. 1350 


.73 


4.86 


20. 57 


256. 7 


.80 


. 1205 


.82 


3. 87 


25. 82 


204. 5 


.64 


. 1055 


.93 


2. 97 


33. 69 


156. 7 


.49 


.0990 


.98 


2. 64 


37.82 


139. 4 


.43 


.0915 


1.08 


2. 23 


44. 78 


117.9 


.37 


.0800 


1.23 


1.70 


58. 58 


90. 1 


.28 


.0760 


1.29 


1.54 


64. 93 


81.3 


.25 


.0410 


28.7 


.44 


223. 00 


23. 7 


.07 


.0348 


33.8 


.32 


309. 60 


17.0 


.05 



In southern areas barbed wire is objectionable because of the 
screwworm fly, which lays its eggs in open wounds. 

Barbed wire, in the past, was sold in spools either of 80 rods or 100 
pounds of wire, but the 100-pound spool as a standard has now (Jan- 
uary 1, 1938) been discontinued by wire manufacturers. In comparing 
quality and prices, weight is important, but the farmer wants to know 

3 50040 —40 2 



8 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



the length of fence he can build. Hence all spools should have tags 
showing length as well as weight. An 80-rod spool of barbed wire 
weighs approximately 74 to 76 pounds. 

Figure 4,A, illustrates a well-built barbed-wire fence with five 
lines, while figure 4,5, shows a four-line barbed-wire fence which is 




Figure 4. — A, A well-built five-line barbed- wire fence on cedar posts, suitable 
for cattle; B f many four-line barbed-wire fences are badly stretched by stock 
reaching through and require frequent repair. 

continually strained and requires restapling and restretching at 
frequent intervals. 

WOVEN WIRE 

The first woven-wire fencing was made in the early eighties. Then 
followed a period when line wires were stretched on posts and properly 
spaced, and the stays woven in by hand-cranked apparatus with 



FARM FENCES 



9 



spools of wire which revolved about these line wires. Now most 
woven wire is factory-made. For field fences the rectangular (fig. 5) 
or diamond mesh (fig. 14) are most common. Single and double loop, 
full or half hexagon, or slight variations are used for paddocks, lawns, 
gardens, and poultry yards. The close-mesh rectangular, diamond, or 
chain link are used for nonclimbable guard fences and for lawns. 
Standard heights for poultry nettings range from 12 to 72 inches for 
the lighter specifications and for the heavier from 26 to 55 inches. 

To reduce the number of styles and the cost of production and sales, 
the United States Department of Commerce in 1924 promulgated, 



2 f 

3" 


61" 

1155 




9" 








54" p 








53" 


4" 


1047 r < 






9": 




8" 












5" 




8 






7"; 

832 ;/ 


726 


7" : 
















f 6 " 

4" 


6" \ 






















o 

3" : 


*f: 




























5" ; 




























2 i 




























4" !. 




























3l 




























3" \ 




























3" \ 















A B C D E 

Figure 5. — Simplified-practice standards in woven- wire fencing combined with 
barbed wire for good construction of farm fences: A, Fence with a single top 
line of barbed wire and wide-width woven fencing of 55 inches, 11 bars, and 
12-inch spacing of stays; B, similar to A except for 47-inch width of woven 
fencing: C, D, and E, also show variations in width and number of lines of 
barbed wire with 6-inch spacing of stays. Bottom line of barbed wire used for 
hogs. 

in cooperation with fence manufacturers, Simplified-Practice Recom- 
mendations No. 9. The standard styles commonly used on farms 
(fig. 5) are numbered 1155, 1047, 939, 832, and 726. Special styles 
sometimes are made in sizes 958, 849, and 741. The first one or two 
digits represent the number of line wires and the last two the height 
in inches; i. e., 1155 has 11 horizontal wires and is 55 inches in height. 
In standard fencing the vertical stay wires are spaced 6 or 12 inches. 
Cheap fencing sometimes has wider spacings and smaller wire. This 
fact should be remembered in comparing the prices of fencing. 

Full-gage Nos. 9, 11, 12%, and 14% are used for standard livestock 
fencing and 13 and 14% for poultry and garden fences. Standard 
specifications are designated in accordance with the size of the stay 
wire used, as shown in table 3. For extra-heavy wire, specification 
No. 7 is used. However, the specifications given in the table meet 



10 



.FARMERS' BULLETIN 18 32 



all ordinary requirements on the farm. The heavier wire gives longer 
service and lowers the annual cost of maintenance. As shown by 
table 2, the smaller wire has greater surface area per pound of wire and 
hence is more subject to damage from corrosion. 



Table 3. — Standard specifications for woven-wire fences 





Wire 


gage Nos. used for 




Wire -gage Nos. us 


'd for 




Specification No. — 




Specification N( 




Item 










Item 












9 


U 

9 
9 


121 2 


H U 




9 


11 


12U 


14H 




9 


10 
10 


11 
11 


Intermediates 


9 
9 


11 
11 


12M 


141' 

H', 2 


Bottom bar 


Stays 



Stay wires are made stiff or flexible, and either form may be had 
from most manufacturers. The flexible stay is said to absorb shocks 
more readily while the stiff stay (fig. 23) tends to keep the fence 
more erect. The advantages of these characteristics are limited by 
the quality of wire and the workmanship used. 

Another feature of a good woven wire is that of tension curves. 
These curves are built into the line wires for the purpose of providing 
for contraction and expansion due to temperature changes. These 
curves are in some cases offset as much as three-eighths of an inch 
with a spacing every 6 inches (fig. 5). In stretching the fence they 
serve as a guide with respect to the amount of wire tension applied 
during erection. This is discussed on page 43. If the wire is of high 
quality and not excessively stretched it is elastic enough to expand 
and contract with temperature changes without becoming permanently 
elongated. 

Figure 6 illustrates a well-built woven-wire fence; figure 7 shows 
how the fence may be crowded down by stock when the top strand of 
barbed wire is omitted. 

CORROSION OF WIRE 

All iron rusts in moist air unless protected. Early manufacturers 
used red paint or lacquer to prevent corrosion, but now galvanizing 
(coating with zinc) is the principal protection used. Good zinc is 
one of the best coatings known, and new methods of application are 
being constantly dev ised. 

Small electric currents flow whenever two dissimilar metals such as 
iron and zinc or two pieces of iron of different composition are wetted 
by a salt solution. This is called electrolysis. All rain water contains 
some salts, and that near the seacoast has heavier concentration than 
that inland. Water collected during a thunderstorm is rich in salts 
that induce electrolysis. It is thought that weeds and grasses tend 
to ground these charges and to neutralize their oxidizing or corrosive 
effects. This may explain the principal action but does not provide 
a measure of why some wires rust faster than others. The presence 
of salts suggests a reason for the shorter life of wire fencing near the 
seacoast. 

POULTRY FENCING 

The first step in successful poultry raising is sanitation. Good 
fencing is of prime importance in the maintenance of sanitary condi- 



FARM FENCES 



11 



tions about pens and house. Separation of diseased stock, breeding 
stock, chicks from older birds, and pullets from hens usually can be 
secured by poultry fencing. Wire cloth or netting is used for sun 
parlors, floors, and roosts. 




Figure 6. — A well-built woven-wire fence, showing line brace and concrete 
anchor post with cleat board to retain fence line on curve. 




Figure 7. — Top line of barbed wire omitted; result — fence crowded down by 

livestock. 



The Department of Commerce standards for poultry^ fencing pro- 
vided principally for fences of sufficient strength to resist stock and 
are made in specification 13 and 14% with 6-inch spacing of stays. 



12 FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 

and in three height specifications, Nos. 2158, 1948, and 1635 (fig. 8), 
There are no other set standards for poultry fencing and netting. 



2158 21 bars 58inch 



5" 












5" 










1948 I9bars 48inch 


35 I6bars 35inch 


2 




















^2 




















4 


















16 


4" 




























31- 
























































3" 












































































































































2" 












































































































































'i- 

























































Figure 8. — Common forms of woven fencing showing spacing commonly used 

for poultry. 

The kinds of poultry fencing shown in one catalog would require the 
dealer to carry more than 70 different rolls of the fencing. Rolls are 
usually 150 feet long, but some are 10 or 20 rods long. There appears 




Figure 9. — Poultry fence showing a well-braced steel corner post. The fence 

needs to be restretched. 

to be no need for such a large number of variations. Simplification 
of poultry-fence styles would in the long run result in lower prices to 
the consumer. 



FARM FENCES 



13 



Heavy poultry fencing may be obtained in heights of 36, 48, 60, 
and 72 inches and poultry netting in heights of 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 
48, 60, and 72 inches. Poultry fencing with stays spaced 3, 4, or 6 
inches are available. Where small chicks are to be confined, the 
first six bars from the bottom vary from 1 inch apart to 1% and 1% 
inches apart, the space gradually increasing with the height (fig. 8). 

The height of fencing for heavy breeds may be 48 or 60 inches, but 
for the lighter breeds a height of 72 inches is preferable. A single 
wire on a bracket facing the pen side placed above the wire netting 
is effective in discouraging birds from flying out of the pen. 

Figure 9 shows a poultry-yard fence with a well-braced corner. 

For small poultry yards and small back yards, poultry netting 
serves for a short time, but the poultry specialist will find that wire 




Figure 10. — A movable fence on steel post useful in hogging down com. 



fencing with heavier specification will have a longer life and give more 
satisfactory service. 

ADAPTING WIRE FENCES TO SPECIAL NEEDS 

The choice of a fence is determined by the type of farming and size 
of farm. Horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry are found in all 
parts of the United States, but the relative importance of each class 
of animal varies. In the Corn Belt, horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs 
may at times be found together in the same pasture or in adjacent 
fields. Hence a high woven-wire fence such as that shown in figure 
5, A and B, is commonly found in this area. The narrow woven-wire 
fence is also common; the 26-inch fence with three barbed wires above, 
or a 32-inch fence with two strings of barbed wire (fig. 5, D and E) 
may be used. Either is satisfactory for hogs and sheep. Barbed 
wire alone, because it tears the fleece, is less suitable for sheep, partic- 
ularly in small lots or pastures. 



14 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



Since the purpose of the top string of barbed wire is to prevent stock 
from crowding down the fence, a string of barbed wire with points 
spaced 3 or 4 inches apart should be used on top of woven wire, as 
shown in figure 6. A barbed wire 2 or 3 inches above the ground is 
used for hog fences in permanent pastures to discourage rooting. A 



t 



Pos+ 

WOVEN-WIRE FENCE 




LATH FIELD FENCE 
(50'-0"to lOO'-O" sections) 




Figure 11. — Three economical types of sheep fences: Upper, combination wire and 
boards; middle, a movable slat or snow fence; lower, a portable fence useful for 
pasture and soiling crops and temporary lots. 



common practice in the Corn Belt is that of hogging down corn. For 
this purpose a temporary fence such as that shown hi figure 10 is often 
used. To secure a hog- tight fence with barbed wire alone requires six 
strings of wire, which often costs more to build and maintain than 
does a woven-wire fence. Barbed wire with four points and 3-inch 
spacing is designed principally for hogs (fig. 5). 



FARM FENCES 



15 



Forms C to E (fig. 5) are commonly used for hogs. The 26-inch 
woven wire is preferable when used for temporary hog fence in a 
cornfield (fig. 10), since it may be easily rolled between corn rows. 
There is little difference in cost of construction between form D, having 
three lines of barbed wire, and form E, having four lines, and the cost 
of upkeep of the former is less. 

In the Western States large permanent pastures are fenced with but 
three strands of barbed wire, and in some sections of low-priced land 
two strands are used to hold cattle on a given area. Such fences do 
not restrain all individuals, and those with "fence-busting" pro- 
pensities should be provided with yokes or other devices for keeping 
within bounds. 

If fences are not used, sheep must be carefully herded, which often 
involves considerable expense. In many cases it is possible to use 




Figure 12. — A dog- or coyote-proof fence used in range-sheep production. 



temporary fences (fig. 11, B and (7). In constructing such fences 
fewer posts are required for sheep than for hogs. 

Sometimes it is worth while to build fences for protection against 
coyotes and dogs (fig. 12), which sometimes cause large losses as is 
revealed by a report from 200 farmers of North Dakota. Thirty-four 
percent reported losses from coyotes and 42 percent from dogs. Of 
the total number of sheep kept there was a loss of one-third of 1 percent 
due to coyotes and one-fourth of 1 percent due to dogs. To restrict 
sheep only requires a comparatively simple fence, but to protect sheep 
from predatory animals requires more expensive construction. The 
extended arm (fig. 12) discourages dogs from jumping over the fence. 
In some of the sheep-raising sections of Texas an apron of 18 inches of 
woven wire is laid on the ground, fastened to the woven wire adjacent 
to the ground, and weighted down with rocks or stakes so as to prevent 
burrowing below the fence line. The fence shown in figure 13 has 
such an apron. Woven-wire fences (figs. 13 and 14) are particularly 
valuable for large sheep lots or pastures. Standard woven-wire 

159649°— 40 3 



16 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



specifications are often used for sheep fences, but in semiarid and high- 
plateau regions lighter wire is commonly used. 

Figure 15 suggests forms of fencing suitable for various purposes 
and in many cases their advantages are obvious. 




Figure 13— A do^proof sheep fence with wide spacing of posts. The wires 
between posts are supported on wooden stays. 




Figure 14.— A diamond-mesh fence for a sheep paddock or orchard. The 
ladder-form stile saves fence and clothes repair. 



Protection of young orchards, nurseries, or truck gardens from 
rabbits and other rodents is often necessary. Large areas may be 
most effectively protected by using 1^-inch mesh or finer-mesh 
netting about 3 feet high. Where only a small number of scattered 



FARM FENCES 



17 




Figure 15. — Useful forms of fences: A, An attractive lawn fence adds beauty to 
the farmstead; B, a safe bull pen is good life insurance; C, a windbreak on the 
feed lot is a feed saver. 



18 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 18 3 2 



trees are to be protected shields or netting are placed around the 
trunk and afford considerable protection. For protection against 
cottontails, 1-inch mesh poultry netting or wire doth 18 inches wide 
is used. To keep out jack rabbits and in regions of heavy snow, 
higher shields are needed to prevent the rabbits from reaching the 
trunks or limbs above the shield. Veneer boards, heavy building 
paper, gunny sacks, or cloth wrappings are also of temporary help. 

A pen or creep is used for separate feeding of small pigs. This pen 
should have two or more openings which permit pigs to enter but keep 
the older hogs out (fig. 16). 

ELECTRIC FENCES 

An electric fence is a barrier of one or more wires carrying sufficient 
voltage to cause a disagreeable shock to persons and animals that 




Figure 16. — Design for construction of creep for small pigs. 



touch it. The principle is not new, since electrical shocking devices 
of various kinds have been used for more than 30 years and the electric 
fence has been manufactured commercially for more than 20 years. 
Electricity in appreciable quantity, even at extremely low voltage, is 
dangerous if improperly used. 

The common tendency to try devices of low first cost and improved 
design has, in many cases, resulted in the use of inferior products or 
unsafe construction of electric fences. Accidents to persons and live- 
stock have revealed the need for regulations which will reasonably 
safeguard the user against dangerous and unreliable equipment. 
Present knowledge about the effect of electric shock is too limited to 
justify definite statements as to proper safeguards, but among those 
generally accepted are the following: 

1. Maximum current output must be limited. It is the quantity or amperage 
of current passing through the body that is responsible for injuries from electric 
shock. By proper design of the controlling device the amperage may be limited , 



FARM FENCES 



19 



effectively with whatever voltage is used. On the other hand, if the amperage 
is not properly limited by the controlling device, even low voltages may cause 
dangerous shock if the subject is standing on wet ground or in contact with a 
grounded object. The amount of current required to cause "freezing" to the 
conductor varies with different people, but one one-hundredth of an ampere — 
10 milliamperes — seems to be the maximum permissible limit to avoid ' 'freezing." 

2. Interrupted current with duration of charge not to exceed one-tenth of a 
second. The intervals between charges should be long enough to afford time for 
the victim to free himself. 

3. Controlling mechanism designed so that the circuit-breaking device cannot 
stop in closed position. 

4. Current controller to be sealed in a tamperproof box. 

5. Housing and nonconducting parts of controller to be effectively grounded. 

6. No device of poor construction to be approved. 

7. Full instructions for installation and use to be furnished by the manu- 
facturer of electric fences with each controller. These instructions should be 
followed faithfully. 

8. The fence to be equipped with lightning arrestors to prevent loss of property 
and livestock. 

The principal uses of electric fences are: 

1. For supplementary fencing or for temporarily enclosing pastures, feed lots, 
or haystacks or for dividing off fields of corn or other crops to be hogged down. 

2. For placing inside bull pens to decrease the damage to the usual heavy 
fences which safety demands should always be used. 

3. To discourage prowlers and predatory animals. 

4. For the fencing of marginal land which does not warrant investment in the 
usual permanent fencing; for areas where good fence posts are scarce; and for 
rocky land where it is hard to dig post holes. 

5. As a protective measure against depredation of wildlife, electric fences have 
been used with variable success. Four charged wires have kept bears out of 
apiaries; and two wires may keep deer and antelope away from haystacks. 

Advantages claimed for the electric fence are: 

1. Low cost. The relative cost of an electric fence and a conventional barbed- 
wire fence will vary with the length of the fence. In long fences the cost of extra 
wires and posts may more than equal the cost of the controller and connections. 
Although fewer posts are required for the electric fence, the properly constructed 
fence includes insulators. The amount of electrical energy consumed by the 
electric fence is practically negligible, but this item may be offset in part at 
least by the cost of keeping the vegetation cut along the fence. 

2. One wire required. This claim may be correct where stock of one kind and 
one size are to be restrained but not if the stock is of different kinds and sizes. 

3. Easily moved. 

The principal disadvantages of electric fences are: 

1. There is danger of loss of human lives as well as of livestock. 

2. Livestock require initial training to respect charged wires. 

3. The current may cease to flow and the stock get out, resulting in damage to 
the owner's or his neighbor's property. 

4. An electric fence cannot be depended upon to stop infuriated bulls or 
stampeded animals. 

5. Weeds, grass, or shrubbery may ground the fence wire; and it may be 
necessary to cut weeds and grass several times a season. 

6. Some types of electric fences need adjustment to weather conditions; dry 
soils require higher voltage, which, in turn, with some designs, increases the 
potential danger if the voltage is not reduced when wet weather comes. 

7. Some units may cause interference with radio reception. 

It is dangerous to use electric-fence controllers constructed by 
untrained and unskilled workmen. Unless the builder of such 
devices is thoroughly familiar with the requirements and character- 
istics and has the necessary equipment and tools to construct them, he 
will likely have difficulty m manufacturing controllers that will come 
up to the generally accepted standards; nor would he be likely to 



20 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



obtain approval from the State electrical inspection service (in States 
where inspection is compulsory) for the use of his device without first 
submitting it to some recognized laboratory for test. 

Fatalities resulting from electric fences have been instrumental in 
causing some States to set up regulations concerning their use. Be- 
fore buying or installing an electric-fence controller investigate local and 
State ordinances, ascertain whether their use is permitted and what 
the regulations are concerning their installation and use. 

Many engineers believe that, no matter how carefully these devices 
are designed and built, they are subject to mechanical break-down or 
to insulation failure and that the same precautionary measures should 
apply to the use of the electric fence as to any other uninsulated or 
unprotected electric conductor. For these reasons the user of an 
electric fence should become familiar with precautionary measures. 

A severe electric shock, regardless of the source of electricity, is 
likely to paralyze the muscles that control breathing or to interfere 
with the regular rhythmic beating of the heart. To resuscitate from 
electric shock use the same methods of restoring respiration as in 
cases of asphyxiation from gas or drowning and call a doctor at once. 

FENCE POSTS 
WOOD POSTS 

Three classes of material are commonly used for fence posts; wood, 
metal, and concrete. Bois d'arc, or Osage-orange, black locust, red 
cedar, oak, and catalpa are the most durable wood posts but are not 
available in all sections. Other native woods are used in areas suit- 
able for their growth. In many areas the farm woods are an impor- 
tant source of fence posts. Waste or otherwise un tillable land may 
be used for woodland. The best trees should be selected for posts 
and the lower grades for firewood. The local or State forestry de- 
partment can recommend the best species to grow in a given area. 

Where timber is plentiful, the use of wood posts naturally predomi- 
nates over that of other materials. Posts low in first cost are often 
not the cheapest when length of service is considered. Hence the 
farmer should select the most durable post available or treat the less 
durable wood. Posts should last as long as the fencing attached to 
it, or the maintenance cost will be high. 

The different species of wood may be divided into three classes: 

(1) The most durable, which give good service without treatment ; 

(2) durable woods which gives fair service without treatment but may 
be economically treated to increase their life; and (3) comparatively 
short-lived species that must be treated to give satisfactory service. 

In the first or most durable class are Osage-orange or bois d'arc, 
red cedar, chestnut, black locust, and catalpa, with an average life of 
from 15 to 30 years or more; in the second class white oak, cypress, 
mulberry, sassafrass, black walnut, tamarack, cherry, hackberry, bur 
oak, hemlock, white walnut or butternut, and redbud, with a life from 
8 to 16 years; in the third class elm, larch, honey locust, and sap 
cypress, with a life from 4 to 8 years; pine, willow, ash, birch, cotton- 
wood, aspen, maple, hickory, ironwood, sycamore, sugartree, dog- 
wood, and persimmon, lasting from 3 to 6 years. Boxelder, basswood, 
gum, and bay are of little value untreated, and the cost of treating is 
ofttimes not economical. Humid climates, because of drying and 



FARM FENCES 



21 



wetting, are naturally more destructive to wood posts than are semi- 
humid or arid climates. However, in arid regions the portion of post 
above ground dries out excessively and permits entrance of fungi into 
the cracks which eventually may cause destruction of the post. 

The practice of seasoning posts is variable and its value not fully 
demonstrated. However, peeling and seasoning is generally recom- 
mended. The wood between the sapwood and heartwood is the most 
durable and the sapwood is least durable. Posts cut before the sap 
begins to run are more durable than those cut while the sap is running. 

Tops of posts are often given a slope of not less than one-fourth 
pitch with the high side next to the wire. Some posts have double 
pitch, while the top of a round post may be tapered somewhat. It is 
thought that doing this helps the post to shed water better and so 
increases its life, though no tests are available to prove this statement. 

PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT 

The advisability of treating wood fence posts depends upon the 
available supply and cost of posts of durable woods as compared with 
treated but less durable woods. Preservative treatment makes pos- 
sible the economical use of home-grown material otherwise unsuitable 
for posts. The cost of creosote treatment varies widely from a few 
cents to 15 or 18 cents per post. The longer life of treated posts may 
justify the cost of treatment. Equipment for treating fence posts can 
often be purchased jointly by two or more farmers. Information on 
the different preservative treatments can be obtained from the State 
agricultural colleges or from Farmers' Bulletin 744, Preservative 
Treatment of Farm Timbers. 

Different forms of home treatment are available. The principal 
ones are as follows: Carbolineum; creosote, both of wood or gas tars; 
zinc chloride; charring; and filling post holes with gravel for drainage. 
Different kinds of salts, acid and limewater, mercuric chloride, sodium 
fluoride, and other substances have been tried but are not used 
extensively. A preservative should be safe for use and reasonably 
cheap, penetrate the wood readily, be noncorrosive to metals, not 
wash out easily, and be poisonous to fungi. 

In southern climates or where conditions are favorable to decay, 
treatment of the entire post is feasible. Elsewhere treatment of tops 
and butts is practical and economical. In the butt treatment a por- 
tion of the post 1 foot above and below the ground line is treated, in 
accordance with the soil conditions (p. 23). Carbolineum and creosote 
may be applied with a brush, but brushing is more effective with 
carbolineum than with creosote, for which the tank treatment is 
generally preferable. Zinc chloride is usually not recommended for 
brush treatment and is not as satisfactory as good creosote. 

Table 4 is based on experiments made in Missouri with 26 varieties 
of wood posts for a period of 23% years. While the results shown 
apply to the conditions under which the tests were made, the table is 
of value as showing the comparative durability of different kinds 
of wood without treatment or with one of the treatments 
listed. The annual service costs were computed by adding 4 
cents for setting and the cost of the treatment to the initial cost of the 
post and dividing by the years of service obtained. The last three 
columns indicate which treatment gave the longest life and the least 



22 



FARMERS' BULLET 1 1ST 183 2 



annual service cost. For example hickory posts lasted 12 years when 
creosoted 2}i hours (G) but gave the lowest annual service cost when 
treated with carbolineum (D). When untreated, they lasted only 
3.6 years, as shown by the third column. 



Table 4. — Comparison of different wood posts with respect to cost, durability, 
efficiency of treatment, 1 and annual service cost as observed over a period of 28}/% 
years in Missouri 2 



Kind of wood 


No treatment 


Annual service cost 3 for kind of treatment 
indicated 


Best treatment 






( arbo- 
lincum 

(D) 


Creosoted 


For longest 
life 


For 
least 
an- 
nual 

cost 1 


Local 
cost 
of 
post 


Test 
life 


Check 
(A) 


• 

Set in 
gravel 

(B^ 


Butts 
charred 


1 

Brush 

(E ) 


Tank 


1 

hour 

(F> 


2}<2 

hours 

(G) 


Kind 


Life 




Cents 


1 eurs 


Cent* 


Cents 


Cents 


Cents 


Cents 


Cents 


Cents 




Years 




Osage-orange 


30 
30 


( 4 ) 




















A 


White Cedar 


0) 




1. 61 


0) 


( 4 ) 












A 


Catalpa 


22 


0) 














A 


Black locust 


20 
16 


21. 5 


1. 12 
1. 25 


2.20 


"~L52 


1.33 


( 4 ) 


( 4 > 


0) 






A 


Sassafras^ 


in. o 


1. 26 


1.79 


3. 62 


1.42 


1.67 


2. 16 


O 


17. 6 


A 


White oak_ 


15 


13. 6 


1.40 




3. 19 


1. 12 


2. 94 


1.67 


1.85 


O 


20.0 


D 


Black walnut. _ - 


15 


9.3 


2.20 


2." 52 


3. 06 


1.87 


2. 35 


1.39 


2. 10 


F 


20.0 


F 


Kentucky coffeetree 


15 


6.3 


3. 02 


2. 24 


2. 60 


2. 10 


1.68 


1. 54 


1.74 


O 


21. 3 


F 


White walnut- ._ - 


15 


11.0 


1.73 


1.65 


2. 60 


1.61 


2. 28 


2. 13 


2. 54 


G 


14. 6 


D 


Redbud .__ 


12 


10. 3 


1.55 


2. 22 


1.67 


2. 15 


2. 80 


1.73 


2. 37 


F 


14. 3 


A 


Red oak 


12 


3.6 


4. 45 


2. 57 


2. 76 


2. 15 


5. 12 


2. 26 


2. 22 


G 


15. 3 




Honeylocust 


12 


5. 3 


3.02 


1.44 


3. 21 


1.37 


2.28 


1.59 


2. 78 


F 


15.6 


s 


Black oak 


12 


3.0 


5. 33 


3.76 


6. 85 


2. 86 


2. 38 


1.91 


2. 83 


F 


13.0 


F 


Black ash 


12 


4.3 


3. 72 


3.51 


4.20 


3. 33 


5. 13 


1.77 


1.83 


G 


18.6 


F 


Ironwood 


12 


3. 6 


4. 45 


4.50 


6. 42 


2. 08 


6.40 


2. 06 


2.50 


G 


13.6 


D 


Hickory 


i 10 


3.6 


3.89 






1.46 


4.00 


2. 46 


2. 67 


O 


12.0 


D 


Hackberry 


10 


3.3 


4.25 




~~~8.~ 64 


3.90 


6. 15 


3. 46 


2.90 


G 


11.0 


G 


White elm 


8 


4.0 


3.00 


~~3.~40~ 


4. 64 


1.67 


4. 12 


1.89 


3. 76 


G 


8.0 


D 


River birch 


8 


3.0 


4.00 


2. 65 


4. 63 






2. 60 


3. 12 


G 


9.6 


F 


Sycamore 


8 


2.0 


6.00 


6.00 


2. 43 


4.00 


8. 25 


2. 24 


3.75 


F 


9.3 


F 


Dogwood 


8 


3.0 


4.00 


3. 70 


4.64 


4. 38 


4.60 


2. 24 


2. 38 


G 


12.6 


F 


Persimmom 


8 


2.6 


4.62 


4.06 


6.50 


4.85 


5.00 


2. 42 


3.75 


F 


8.6 


F 


Sugar tree 


5 


3.3 


4. 22 


Z. 06 


3. 73 


3.63 


.38 


3. 56 


3. 86 


G 


7.0 


E 


Willow 


5 


2.3 


3.90 


3. 64 


5. 35 


3. 25 


5.20 


1.92 


2. 08 


G 


13.0 


F 


Cottonwood 


5 


3.3 


4. 22 


4.22 


4. 74 


3.25 


4. 10 


2. 12 


3. 38 


F 


8.3 


F 


Basswood 


5 


2.3 


3.90 


4.60 


5. 35 


5. 00 


6. 75 


3.88 


3. 25 


G 


8.3 


G 



1 Letters A to G are used for convenience in designation of test treatment. 

* Data compiled from Bulletin 374 Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station. Effect of Treatment of 
Fence Posts. 

3 Annual post cost per year equals sum of first cost, cost of treatment, and setting cost divided by years of 
service. 

* No failures observed during period of test. 

Paints as a general rule retard but do not prevent decay. The 
result obtained by such coating is largely that of improving the 
appearance or increasing the visibility of the fence (fig. 17). Dipping 
posts in cement paint or paste is mostly wasted effort. 

Setting posts in concrete is usually bad practice since the post 
shrinks from the concrete, leaving a crack for moisture to enter, with 
little opportunity for the absorbed moisture to evaporate, thus causing 
the post to quickly rot at the junction line of the two materials. 
With durable woods or treated posts the stability and convenience of 
concrete for anchorage often justifies its use. The concrete collar 
should extend well above ground, and the top edge should be sloped 
so as to give good drainage. 

SIZE OP POSTS 

The size of wood posts varies considerably with the strength and 
durability of the species used. Line posts of Osage-orange are some- 
tunes as small as 2}{ inches in diameter. With other woods line posts 



FARM FENCES 



23 



are commonly 4, 5, or 6 inches, and corner posts and gateposts 8 to 12 
inches in diameter. The least dimension for split posts is usually not 
less than 5 inches. Large posts usually last longer than smaller posts 
of the same wood. 

Posts usually are set 2% feet in the ground and extend about 6 
inches above the top wire. The over-all length, of course, depends 
on the height of the fence but is generally 7, 1% or 8 feet for line posts, 
while gateposts and brace posts are of sufficient length to meet the 
service required. 

In stiff dry soil, the post usually decays first just below the top of 
the ground. In porous or sandy soil they usually rot from the top 
down. Posts that are in continually damp soil rot very slowly, while 
in soils with widely varying moisture content they are likely to rot 
most rapidly at the ground line. In shallow or rocky soil it is often 




Figure 17. — Creosoted posts with painted tops, together with intermediate stays 
increase the visibility of fence for horse pastures. 



impractical to set posts in the ground, and special types of posts are 
required (figs. 18 and 19). 

METAL POSTS 

Metal posts are made of steel, or alloyed steel, and wrought iron. 
Copper-bearing steel or rust-resistant alloys are desirable if the added 
alloy is sufficient to prevent corrosion. Metal posts may be obtained 
either painted or galvanized. No authentic tests of long standing are 
available on the comparative durability of such posts. However, 
observations made at the South Dakota and the Arkansas Agricul- 
tural Colleges showed that galvanized posts were in good condition 
after 10 years, whereas the painted posts had lost about 80 percent of 
their coating and were rusting badly. 

In a given locality a painted metal post may be obtained for 35 
cents; the same post galvanized would cost about 50 cents. The high 
cost of metal posts is a disadvantage, but there are certain advantages 
which tend to offset this. Metal posts protect stock against lightning 

159649°— 40 4 



24 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 18 32 



by grounding the current, they are light in weight and easily handled 
and may be easily driven into most soils, which reduces the labor and 
cost of setting. Like concrete posts, metal posts permit the burning 




Figure 18. — In shallow* soil above rock, posts may be set in sills and braced. 




Figure 19.- — Rock-filled corner post or gatepost for stony land. 



of weeds and trash in the fence line. However, this burning should 
always be done on a day when the wind is blowing away from the 
fence; otherwise the heat of the fire may seriously damage the gal- 
vanizing on the wires and posts. 



FARM FENCES 



25 



Metal posts are made of two different weights and in four general 
shapes or forms: The angle iron; tee form in light, heavy, and de- 
formed; channel, or U-bar, of various shapes; and the pipe, or cold- 
rolled circular split form. A number of devices are employed for 
fastening the wires to the metal posts (fig. 20). These various shapes 
may be punched, perforated, lipped, studded, or otherwise deformed. 
Decreasing the area of contact of post and line wire for the purpose of 
drainage and reducing rust is accomplished by deformation or em- 
bossing. If the posts are lipped (fig. 20, F) so as to provide self- 




Figure 20. — Steel farm fence posts, showing typical shape, wire binders, and 
surface treatment. Shapes or forms: Angles, C and J ; tee's, A, D, G, H> 
and /; channel or U-bar, B and E; circular F. Binders: Twisted wire, C; 
staples, D and J; slip on, G and J; clip and twist, A, B, E, H; lipped, F. Sur- 
faces: Studded, Cand G] embossed, A, C, E; channelled, A, B, I; perforated or 
punched, B, D, and J. 

fasteners, the metal must be sufficiently ductile to stand bending 
without breaking. The weights of the common forms of metal posts 
are given in table 5. 

Table 5. — Approximate weight and sizes of common metal posts for farm fencing 



Shape 



Hound. _ 

Do 

Angle 
Light T_ 



Heavy T_ 
Channel - 



Nominal size 



No. 8 gage, 2y> inches 

No. W/2 gage, 1M inches 
1J4 by VA by inches 
1H by 1?* by by # 

inches. 
\Yi by Wi by \i by H 

inches. 
l 15 Ae by l?io by % by 

V&\ inches. 



Weight for posts of length indicated 



feet 


5H 
feet 


6 
feet 


feet 


7 

feet 


71,2 
feet 


IS 

feet 


Lb. 


Lb. 


Lb. 


Lb. 


Lb. 


Lb. 


Lb. 


0) 


0; 


27.1 


0) 


29. 1 


31. 0 


32.9 


7.0 


(}) 


8.4 


9. 1 


9.8 


10.5 


11.2 


6.20 


6. 76 


7. 32 


7.88 


8. 41 


9.00 


9.56 


6. 92 


7. 55 


8. 17 


8.80 


9. 42 


10. 05 


10. 67 


7. 32 


7.99 


8. 65 


9.32 


9. 98 


10. 65 


11.31 


6. 20 


6. 76 


7. 32 


7.8S 


8. 44 


9.00 


9. 56 



Lb. 

36.6 
215.2 



9 
feet 



10 
feet 



Lb. 
40.4 
16.7 



11 

feet 



Lb. 
41. 1 

2 18. 3 



1 Not commonly made in this length. 
' For corners and braces, 13h> gage. 



2G 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



Objections to steel posts are the lack of resistance to the pressure 
of stock and the ease with which lightweight posts are bent. In 
order to resist the pressure of the stock crowding the fence, anchor 
plates bolted, clamped, or riveted to the base of the post are used to 
help retain fence alinement. These are usually in three general 
forms: Flat plate, bent plate, and split wing, as shown in figure 21. 




Figure 21. — Common forms of steel-post anchors: .4, Flat plate; B, flat plate 

bent; and C, split wing. 

In some areas close to oil fields, boiler factories, or repair shops used 
pipe may be obtained at reasonable prices for fence posts. These 
should be at least 1% inches in diameter for line posts and larger for 
corner posts. Heavy corner posts or gateposts can be made of pipes 
6 or 8 inches in diameter filled with concrete. 




Figure 22. — Methods of driving steel posts: A, Post maul or sledge with driving 
cap protecting top of post ; B, driving post with weighted sleeve. 

Metal posts may be easily and quickly driven in heavy clay soils 
with an ordinary 12- to 16-pound steel sledge or post maul, in which 
case a driving cap (fig. 22, A) is used. In lighter soils, a 16-pound 
sleeve driver that can be operated by one man may be used (fig. 22, B). 
This method of setting posts, where feasible, saves considerable labor 
over that of digging and tamping holes. 



FARM FENCES 



27 



CONCRETE POSTS 

Concrete posts, when properly made, will give satisfactory service. 
Figure 23 shows a post that is more than 20 years old. Where sand 
and gravel are available and farm labor and equipment can be used 
advantageously, concrete posts can be made on the farm. Bulletins 
that give directions for making the posts may be obtained from local 
cement dealers or the Portland Cement Association. Success in 
making concrete posts depends on proper mixing and the use of suit- 
able aggregate, the kind of reinforcing used and its proper placing, 




Figure 23. — Concrete fence post supporting woven wire fence with stiff stays. 
Wire fastener molded in posts are seldom in position to fit line wires. 

care in handling green posts, proper curing or seasoning before use, 
and careful handling to avoid breaking or cracking. 2 Unless these 
principles are observed, failure is likely to result. 

Concrete gateposts and corner posts are made in various sizes and 
shapes (figs. 24 and 25) to fit various conditions. These are usually 
cast in place and should be thoroughly cured before the fence is 
attached. It is essential that they be made of good concrete and 
properly reinforced. 

WIRE AND POST FASTENERS 

Nails, staples, twisted wire, and various forms of clips are used to 
fasten boards and wire fencing to the posts. In the days when nails 



2 See Farmers' Bulletin 1772, Use of Concrete on the Farm. 



28 



FARMERS' BULLETIK 1832 



and wire were difficult to obtain, mortised posts (fig. 1, D) were often 
used. 

No. 9 wire is ordinarily used for fence staples. The length and 
style will vary with the hardness of the wood post used: %- and 1-inch 




Figure 24. — A concrete corner post with a wing brace. The pipe bolted to 
the post permits tension adjustment of the fence line. 




Figure 25. — A precast gatepost with a concrete brace. Tension in fence wire is 
adjustable, and brace wire is fitted with a turnbuckle. 

are satisfactory for bois d'arc, while 1%- and lK-inch staples are used 
for the softer woods. Less splitting of the wood will occur if the 
staples are driven in diagonally to the grain. They should be set so 
as to hold the wire securely but should not be buried in the post, as 



FARM FENCES 



29 



this often nicks or bends the wire and results in rapid corrosion. 
Staples for poultry netting vary widely in their requirements, but 
special staples for steel posts (fig. 20, J) are made of No. 10 gage. 
The fence should be fastened to the post in such a way as to allow for 
contraction and expansion and distribution of strain caused by the 
crowding of stock. 

Tables 6 and 7 are convenient for estimating the quantity of staples 
and fasteners needed to build 80 rods of fence. These tables are 
based on an allowance of seven staples per post, which is the average 
number used for the styles shown in figure 5. In estimating for a 
2-, 3-, or 4-line barbed-wire fence, corresponding reductions should, 
of course, be made. 



Table 6. -Quantity 1 of staples required for various spacing of posts 



Post spacing (feet) 


Post s per 
80 rods 


Staples of size indicated for 80 rods of fence 


% inch 


1 inch 


1*4 inches 


\Yi inches 




Number 


Pounds 


Pounds 


Pounds 


Pounds 


8 


165 


7.97 


11.22 


15. 08 


16. 83 


10 


132 


6.37 


8. 98 


11. 15 


13. 47 


12 


110 


5. 32 


7. 48 


9. 29 


11.22 


WA 


80 


3. 87 


6. 44 


6. 76 


8. 16 



i Allows for 7 staples per post, with 5 percent added for loss or waste. 



Table 7. — Number of staples 1 per pound according to length and gage 



For poultry netting 


For fence wire 


Length (inches) 


Wire gage 


Staples per 
pound 


Length (inches) 


Wire gage 


Staples per 
pound 


u 


Number 
14 
14 
14 
10 


Number 
480 
416 
352 
84 


H 


Number 

9 
9 
9 
9 


Number 
152 
108 
87 
72 


% 


l 


1 


m 


VA 


va 







i Wire staples for steel posts, see fig. 20, J. 



The use of metal and concrete posts has caused the development of 
many new fasteners or clips. Figure 20 shows several of the common 
forms now in use. Each manufacturer furnishes special clips particu- 
larly suited for his post. A fastener should provide good drainage of 
water, be easy to fasten or remove, and retain a minimum of dirt as 
it hastens corrosion. In the lipped form (fig. 20, F) a tap with the 
hammer serves to fasten the wire. Such forms must permit the fasten- 
ing or removal of wire several times without danger of breaking. 

Previously, several forms of fasteners were used on concrete posts: 
Inserts cast in post (fig. 23), bolted nailing strips on the side (fig. 6), 
or wire wrapped around the post (fig. 25). The latter method is 
most commonly used at present. 

SPACING OF POSTS 

The life of the fence and the maintenance cost are closely asso- 
ciated with the size and spacing of the fence posts. Most of the 
better fences observed had a spacing of about 12 feet and many 



30 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



miles of field fences are built t with a spacing of 1 rod. In large 
pastures in the West where unit acreage per head is large, spacings 
up to 50 feet are sometimes used, the wires in between the posts 
being supported by wood stays or smaller posts, similar to those 
in figure 13. From tables 8 and 10 it may be seen that it is cheaper 
to add a single strand of wire at a cost of 4 to 5^ cents per rod than 
to space the posts closer. In areas where post timber is scarce this 
is a common practice. In land where rock underlies shallow soil 
the task of digging post holes may be reduced by using fences like 
those shown in figures 18 and 26; in some cases stone anchors or 
piles of stone are used (fig. 19). 




Figure 26. — A panel fence suitable for stony land. 



The size of stays or small intermediate posts varies considerably. 
Stays lji to 2% inches in diameter are used in sheep areas to reduce 
the cost of fencing and maintain an upright fence (fig. 13). Stays 
are also used in horse areas not only to hold up the wires but also 
to increase the visibility of the fence (fig 17). Wire droppers some- 
times are twisted into the line wires to give greater stiffness to the 
fence and to reduce the spread between wires, but this practice 
may hasten the corrosion of the line wires. In dry areas the practice 
is less objectionable than in humid areas. 

If heavy livestock are to be confined in small lots or pastures the 
posts are often set 8 feet apart, which greatly increases the service 
life of the fence. Closer spacing of posts is required for hogs than 
for sheep, although the same height of fence may be used for both. 

Figure 27 shows clearly that the shape of the field affects materi- 
ally the length of fencing required per unit area and emphasizes the 
importance of this factor when laying out fields. Ten acres in the 
form of a square requires 160 rods, whereas if the width is but one- 
fourth the length, 200 rods are required to fence the same area. 
As the size of the field increases the requirement per acre decreases. 



FARM FENCES 31 




Figure 27.— Arrange fields so as to permit economy of fencing and cultivation. 

Table 8. — Cost per rod for various spacings of posts costing 30, 50, and 80 cents 

each in the order mentioned 



Spacing of posts in foot 


8 


10 


12 


16U 


Dollars 


Dollars 


Dollars 


Dollars 


0. 62 


0. 49 


0.41 


0. 30 


1.03 


.82 


.68 


.50 


1. 6.1 


1.32 


1. 10 


.80 



LIFE OF FENCES 

The life of farm fences is difficult to determine because of the 
wide variation in conditions affecting its length of service. The 
data given in table 9 and on page 22 are of value in weighing the 
effects of certain factors. However, in general, the life of a fence 
depends upon the weight or gage of wire. 



Table 9. — Distribution, life, and use of woven-wire and barbed-wire fencing on 
different types of farms in Illinois 1 



Item 


Grain 


Dairy 


Livestock 


Mixed 


Average size of farm___ _ 


_ acres 


1 

184. 4 1 


148.3 


181.4 


122.9 


Fence per acre . _ _ 




5.12 : 


6. 18 


5.8 


6.03 


Woven wire . _._ _ _ . 


_ percent 


22. 9 


21.3 


51.5 


9.8 


Age: 










Less than 12 years _ _ ___ 


do____ 


63. (i 


43.3 


55.0 


24. 2 




do____ 


4. 2 


2,' o 


6. 1 


34.8 


Condition: 












Excellent . ___ 


do____ 


22. y 


b.l 


18.9 


3.8 


Poor _______ . 


do____ 


31.8 


31. 3 


20. 7 


49.4 


Barbed wire. _ _____ 


do____ 


60. 9 


78. f> 


10.7 


77.5 


Age: 












Less than 12 years- 


do_.__ 


82.8 


37. 2 


47.6 


19.0 


Over 20 years. _ . ___ 


do____ 


1.4 


27.8 


9.3 


54. 3 


Condition: 












Excellent __ __ 


do____ 


13. 3 


3.8 


16.8 


1.4 


Poor 


do___ 


20.9 


37.5 


34. 2 


62.8 



1 From Report and Analysis of Fence Survey in Illinois, by R. W. Wright, University of Illinois. Un- 
published. 



32 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



The service given by different widths of woven wire 3 has been 
found to be as follows: 26 inches, 17.2 years; 32 inches, 17 years; 36 
inches, 18.3 years; 39 inches, 18.8 years; 42 inches, 19.9 years; 45 inches, 
21.7 years; 47 inches, 18.9 years. 

The following tabulation indicates the service given by different 
weights of woven-wire fencing: 



Size of wire: y r ears 

No. 9 throughout 21 

No. 7 top, No. 9 bottom laterals, and stays No. 11 or No. 12 20 

No. 9 top and bottom No. 10 laterals and stays 19 

No. 9 top and bottom, No. 11 laterals and stays 18 

No. 9 top and bottom, No. 12 laterals and stays 17 

No. 9 top and bottom, No. 11 laterals, No. 12 stays 18 

No. 10 top and bottom, No. 11 laterals and stays 17 

No. 11 top and bottom, No. 12 laterals and stays If) 

No. 12 top and bottom, No. 14 laterals and stays 13 



COST OF FENCING 

The initial cost of large-size wire is more than that of the smaller 
sizes, but it is more economical in the long run because of its longer 
life. The cost of construction for the heavier fencing is practically 
the same as that for the lighter weights. Also the greater widths are 
more durable than the narrow ones, and the cost of maintenance is less. 

The number of rods of fence that may be erected in a day, will 
vary with the soil condition, topography, efficiency of labor, and type 
of fence erected. No single table of cost data can be prepared which 
will enable a farmer to make a close estimate of the cost of any fence 
for any locality. However, table 10 in combination with the other 
tables will permit of fair estimates covering a wide range of conditions. 

Table 10 is based on a wage of $1.50 per day. Wages paid to skilled 
fence crews may often be higher, but because of their skill and 
superior equipment they may do the work at a lower unit cost than 
common labor. 

Data are given for an average day's work under the conditions 
specified, and a comparison of estimated cost of fence construction 
using the typical fences shown in figure 5 and with posts set 1 rod 
apart. The prices assumed are not average prices but are well within 
the range of farm prices. If the unit price of fence is known, estimates 
of cost of fencing for other specifications than those given in table 1 1 
may be made by comparing with the price per rod. 



3 From U. S. Dept. Agr. Bull. 321, Cost of Fencing Farms in the North Central States. Out of print. 



'Fable 10. — Cost of materials and labor of woven-wire fencing, with posts spaced 1 rod, apart 
[See table 8 for different spacing of posts and table 7 for staples required] 



Kind and height 
of fencing 


Cost of No. 11 
specification, 
6-inch stays 


Oost per 80 rods with barbed wire added 




Cost of labor and material for— 






















Total 
cost of 
mate- 
rial 3 





Posts driven 




Posts set 


Mannard woven 
wire 1 


Ap- 
prox- 
imate 


Per 
rod - 


Per 

80 
rods 


l 

strand 


2 

strands 


.1 

strands 


4 

strands 


0 

strands 


6 

strands 


Rods 


Labor 


Total cost per- - 


Rods 


Labor 


Total cost per — 


_ 


height 














- 




per 
day 


per 80 
rods 


80 
rods 


Rod 


per 
day 


per 80 
rods 


80 

rods 


Rod 


No. 

1155 . 

1047 . 


Inch ts 
\ 58 

{ S 


Dollars 
1). 75 

. 65 


Dollars 
60. 00 

52. 00 


Dollars 
63 .50 
55. 50 


Dollars 
59. 00 


Dollars 


Dollars 


Dollars 


Dollars 


Dollars 
84. 00 

"6 00 

79. 50 


65. 4 
55. 3 
05. 4 
55. 3 
53. 0 


Dollars 

3. 68 

4. 32 

3. 68 

4. 32 
4. 56 


Dollars 
87. 68 
91. 82 
79. 68 
83. 82 
87. 56 


Dollars 
1. 09 
1. 14 
1. 00 
1. 05 
1.09 
.96 
.99 


39. 0 
33. 9 
39. 0 
33. 9 
33. 0 
39. 0 
33. 9 


Dollars 

6. 16 

7. 04 

6. 16 

7. 04 
7. 28 


Dollars 
90. 16 
94. 54 
82. 16 
86. 54 
90. 28 
77. 36 
81.74 


Dollars 
1. 13 
1. 18 
1.03 
1. 08 
1. 12 






. 59 


47. 20 












"M 20 


65. 4 


3. 68 

4. 32 


74. 88 


6. 16 

7. 04 


.97 
• 1.02 


939 


j 39 
! 43 


50. 70 


54.20 











74. <0 


55. 3 


79.02 




















78. 20 


53. 0 


4. 56 


82. 76 


1.03 


33.0 


7. 28 


85. 48 


1.07 




I 58 








57. 70 








81 . 70 


832 .. 


1 32 


.50 


40.00 












64. 00 




3. 68 

4. 56 


67. 68 
75. 56 


.84 




6. 16 
7. 28 


70. 16 

78. 28 


.88 
.98 


42 




47. 00 










"53."(V 


.94 


" 33. 0" 




I 52 










50. 50 








1A. 50 






f 26 


.44 


















3. 68 

4. 56 


62. 88 
74. 26 


.78 
.93 




6. 16 

7. 28 


65. 36 
70. 98 


.82 
.96 


726 _ 


1 £ 








45. 70 








69. 70 


53. 0 


33. 0 












49. 20 






73. 20 






.044 


3. 50 


3. 50 










27. 50 




2. 72 


30. 22 


.38 
.42 
.46 
. 51 




3. 36 
3. 36 
4.08 
5. 04 
7. 04 
9.04 


30. 86 
34. 36 
38. 58 
43. 04 
48. 54 
54. 04 


. 36 
.43 
.48 
. 54 


Barbed wire 


36 
49 
52 




7.00 


10. 50 


14.00 






31. 00 
34 50 
38. 00 


89. 5 
89. 1 
83. 2 


2 72 
2. 72 
2. 88 


33. 72 
37. 22 
40. 88 


71. 5 
58. 7 
47. 9 




54 
58 












17. 50 


"21.00 


41. 50 
45. 00 


56. 7 
56. 7 


4. 24 
4. 24 


45. 74 
49. 24 


. 57 
.61 


34. 1 
26.4 


.61 

.68 



1 See fig. 5 and table 3 for specifications. 

2 Assumed unit price; not an average. 

3 Includes 80 posts at 30 cents each — $24.00. 



34 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



CONSTRUCTION METHODS 

Good workmanship is an important factor in determining the life and 
service of a farm fence. A careless or loosely built fence will be 
costly to maintain and will cause frequent annoyance. 

After the fence line has been located, the ground should be cleared 
of all obstructions such as stones, stumps, brush, and trash. When 
the corners are located, a line of sight poles may be erected at im- 
portant points or a line stretched. The locations of the post holes 
are then established along this line and marked with pegs, where 
exact spacing is necessary. The spacing and depth of post holes are 
governed by the factors previously discussed (p. 30). An auger, 
(fig. 28, B) is commonly used to make post holes in a loose soil or the 




Figure 28. — Various tools used in the construction of farm fences: A, Spade; B i 
post auger; C, post tamper; D, round-pointed shovel; E, spoon shovel for re- 
moving dirt; F, two-jack fence stretcher. 

black loams of the Corn Belt, while in heavy clays, a spade or digger 
is used. In stony land it is sometimes necessary to blast. 

Steel posts are commonly driven to the desired depth. Occasionally 
wood posts are sharpened and driven. A driving cap of steel or iron 
is employed to protect the top end of steel posts when driven with a 
maul, (fig. 22, A). A wood block may be used for the same purpose 
in driving wood posts. In driving posts with a sledge or maul the 
work can be done more easily if the driver stands 2 or 3 feet above the 
ground. A wagon may be used for this purpose as well as for hauling 
the posts. 



FARM FENCES 



35 



One man using a sliding sleeve of approximately 17 pounds weight 
(fig. 22, B) may set steel posts at the desired depth. If long lines of 
fence are to be erected the use of motor-operated drivers or augers 
may be justified. 

The appearance of the fence line is often marred by setting the posts 
in irregular alinement or at different heights and spacings. When 
steel posts are used the fence may be stretched before driving the line 
post. The fence will maintain alignment and help in obtaining even 
spacing. The tops of wood posts may be cut off evenly after they have 
been lined and set. On fairly level ground the post may be set at a 
regular height by a gage mark on the tamping bar. 

A good tamping bar may be made either of steel or wood faced with 
steel (fig. 28, (7). A steel bar 1 inch in diameter or an old piece of 
shafting pointed on one end and with a flat head welded or upset on 
the other end is very useful. The pointed end may be used in starting 
holes for driven posts and for removing rock or other obstructions 
from holes. Posts must be firmly set in order to maintain an erect 
position. A small amount of soil should be backfilled at a time and 
well tamped before more is added. 

BRACING POSTS 

Failures of corner posts are all too common and greatly decrease 
the life and serviceability of the fence. It is highly important that 
corner brace posts be firmly set. If concrete is used it must be 
thoroughly set before the fence is stretched. Posts must not only 
resist the impact of stock but also, in some localities, the heaving action 
of frost. 

Figure 29 helps to reveal the action of normal forces or strains 
which may be placed on corner and brace posts. Tests prove that 
a woven-wire stretcher may exert a force of more than 10,000 pounds 
and that many brace posts fail under a strain of 6,000 pounds or 
even less. Hence the importance of proper tension of wire and 
proper bracing of posts is obvious. 

Figure 29, A, illustrates a wide woven-wire fence used as line wires 
to put a uniform or evenly distributed load on the post or an equiv- 
alent single load at point /. The reaction of the post and braces to 
the pull of the fence is opposite to that of the fence stretcher and 
of equal stress. To resist these forces there must be equal resistance 
offered by the soil to movement of post at point e and to overturning 
at d. This overturning action may be transmitted to c along the 
dotted line and thus to point a or directly to b if the member cd is 
omitted. Any movement of point d tends to lift point a or b out of 
- the ground. Resistance to movement of point c equal to that of d 
may be opposed by a brace, ce, which is m compression, and hence 
^ this member must have stiffness, such as a 4- by 4-inch brace or a 
piece of pipe. The other members, ac and bd y are in tension and 
hence may be held by a wire or rod. 

The angle bee of the brace is important, since if the posts are too 
close, less bracing and more uplifting of the post be occurs. Thus, 
if in figure 29, B y we apply the load at the center (J) with a brace ee 
at an angle of 45°, the horizontal pull and the uplifting component 
are equal, as represented by the arrows, and c revolves about e y 
with a lever arm of the resultant force applied at point /. If the 



36 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



angle is larger than 45° more uplifting and less bracing occurs, but 
more bracing is obtained if the angle is less than 45° (fig. 29, (J). 
This results in less uplift and more bracing and is further decreased 
in D. However, the flatness of the angle may be overdone as the 
brace shown in figure 29, E, which obtains only the added ground 
resistance of the second post with no change in the uplift motion. 




Figure 29. — Principles of and general forms for bracing fence posts: A, The 
load or strain of a fence line applied uniformly to post de, or concentrated at 
point /, illustrates the compression and tension members of fence bracing; 
By C y D, and E compare the lifting and horizontal component forces of a fence 
strain on the brace post as affected by angle of brace of 45° or less; F y post 
braced with a strut and wire to an anchor or deadman; G and /, post braced 
by strut and tie; H, cleats used to resist movement of individual post, hori- 
zontally or vertically; J, a less effective form of bracing than G; K y an effective 
form commonly used for bracing steel posts. 

The brace post should not be closer than 8 feet, but 10 feet is better 
and permits the use of a brace 12 feet long. In order to reduce the 
uplift, the top end of the diagonal brace should not be too close to 
the top of post. 

Some of the more common and most effective forms of bracing are 
shown in figure 29, F to J. form C is more efficient than D since the 



FARM FENCES 



37 



brace resists better the overturning of corner post. Form F is similar 
to G but much more efficient since the tie is fastened to an anchor, or 
deadman, and the uplift on the corner post is greatly reduced. The 




Figure 30. — A good corner post bracing using deadmen anchors for brace wires. 

brace post carries the fence tension load and permits a smaller corner 
post. A further use of this principle is shown in figure 30. The 
form / (fig. 29) is least efficient of all; K is a very effective form used 




Figure 31. — Corner post of cedar with pipe struts. 

for steel posts and consists of pipes or angle irons. Other forms for 
steel posts are shown in figures 9 and 35. Cedar posts such as are 
shown in figure 31 when well-braced should last for years. 



38 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



Figure 25 shows the use of an inexpensive turnbuckle, which is 
an improvement over a twisted wire and permits adjustment of the 
tie when necessary. 

POST ANCHORS 

The purpose of an anchor or bearing plate is threefold; to resist 
strain of fence tension, impact of livestock, and frost heaving. Move- 
ment of brace posts may be resisted by use of bearing boards which 
press against the earth. They are placed on opposite sides of the 
post (fig. 29, Fj G, H, and /). These boards also aid in resisting frost 
action and are effective as long as the bolts or spikes hold. Anchorage 
for the tie wires may take the form of a deadman or an improved form 
of buried plate (figs. 30 and 32) bearing against undisturbed soil. 
The latter may be used in the corner post hole, or a special hole may 
be dug. Plates are firmly fastened to steel posts (fig. 21) pointed so 
as to permit driving and deformed so as to resist pressure against 




Figure 32. — A buried plate anchor, with a driven tie rod. 



swaying or tipping. Because of the small size of steel posts, bearing 
plates (fig. 21) are used to resist the pressure of livestock. Figure 33 
shows a firm anchor attached to the bottom end of a steel post which 
may be revolved and expanded so as to cut into the soil to form a base 
and serve as an anchor against heaving by frost. Figure 34 shows a 
somewhat different anchor consisting of two angle irons driven below 
the surface of the soil and fastened to the post by a suitable joint. 
Line posts are braced about every 40 rods (fig. 35). Such bracing 
will increase the life of the fence. 

Special bracing and anchorage are required whenever fence lines 
depart from straight lines or on stretches (fig. 36) where there is a 
turning and uplifting action of a post caused by a pull from two 
directions. This is best resisted by a tie or brace acting in the di- 
rection of the resultant force, that is, set so as to equally divide the 
angle between the fences. While such a brace is sometimes in the 
way, it is more effective than a tie. 

Posts set in low spots or valleys are sometimes weighted (figs. 37 
and 38) so as to offset the uplift due to wire tension. Boards or cross 



FARM FENCES 



39 





Figure 35. — A braced post in the fence line increases the life of a fence. 



40 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 



I 




Figuke 36. — Braces are necessary on curves. 

cleats as shown in figure 29, H, or posts anchored in concrete are also 
used. 

SPLICING 

The open loop should not be used in splicing a wire as the square 
corners formed tend to cut, causing the wire to break more readily. 
The splice called Western Union has been found most lasting after 
years of service (fig. 39). Such a splice can be made easily with the 
tool shown in figure 40, A. f When the stays are 12 inches apart there 
is usually sufficient wire available to make a good splice between 
stays, but with stays 6 inches or less apart less wire is available, and 
the form shown in figure 39 is used. 

r 




FARM FENCES 




Figure 39. 



—The Western Union splice, suitable for woven wire, is easily made 
with splicing tool. 



42 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



UNROLLING AND STRETCHING WOVEN-WIRE FENCE 

The first step is to partially unroll enough fence to fasten to the 
corner or starting post. Fasten the ends of the wires around the post 
and tie them firmly, being careful to get the stay wires vertical. Unroll 
the fence, keeping the bottom wire close to the post and the inner 
side of the roll next to the post, so that the wire will cling to the post 
when stretched. 




Figure 40. — Convenient fence tools: A, Splicing tool; B, a double-crimp tool; 
and C, a single-crimp tool. 

The wire should, if possible, be placed on the side of the posts 
next to the livestock; this prevents the staples from being pulled by 
the crowding of the livestock. Along highways the wire is usually 
nailed on the side next to the highway to permit stretching the wire 
without the interference of cross fences. 

Stretching should not begin until all concrete is properly set and 
the posts firmly bedded. Line posts may be set after the fence has 




Figure 41. — Geared double-jack woven-wire stretcher. 

been stretched. It is necessary to have a strong stretcher with depend- 
able clamps which will not slip and cause injury to the wire or operator. 

Stretchers used for barbed wire are of three general types — block 
and fall, lever, or geared. Stretchers for woven wire may have one 
or two jacks (fig. 41), which are anchored to a convenient tree or 
temporary post set for the purpose. Figure 42 shows a fence being 
stretched with a single-jack stretcher. The single jack is satisfactory 



FARM FENCES 



43 



for narrow fencing such as ordinary hog wire, but two should be used 
for greater widths. 

In fastening end wires to corner posts and gateposts, pipe or bars 
drawn taut by means of bolts are often used (figs. 24 and 25). These 
also provide a means for releasing or tightening wire tension according 
to seasonal demand, which is important in some sections. Using turn- 
buckles (fig. 25) is a novel feature in tightening brace wire and is said 
by the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station to be well worth 
while. In removing slack from fence lines the crimpers shown in 
figure 40, B and G, are important new tools aiding in maintenance of 
fence lines. 

Wires should not be fastened directly to trees. If a tree is in a 
fence line, spikes may be driven into the tree and the fence wired to 
these, or a strip 2 inches thick may be nailed to the trunk and the fence 
fastened to this. 

* #4~i 1 



i 




Figure 42. — Stretching the fence with a single-jack stretcher. 



After the fence has been unrolled the clamp bar of the stretcher 
should be firmly anchored to the fence. Secure the bar in a vertical 
position parallel to the stays and at a distance from the corner post 
which will permit the cutting and tying of wires around the post. An 
equal number of wires should be placed above and below the jack 
so as to obtain an even pull. Attach the chain to the pull post which 
has been previously set (fig. 42). Check the fence line to remove any 
snags and continue the stretching until the proper tension is obtained, 
which is when the curvature of the tension loops has been reduced 
about one-half. Stretch the line tightly but do not pull out the 
tension curves. Fences are more often understretched than over- 
stretched. 

The fence may now be fastened firmly to the anchor post, if the 
fence is being built on an even terrain; otherwise it will be necessary 
to attach it to the line posts and intermediate anchor posts at the 
controlling points, such as hills and valleys, as illustrated in figure 



44 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



38. In this case it will be necessary to release the strain on the 
stretcher as additional length of fence is required. 

The top wire is then cut and tied around the corner post and made 
taut with a single wire or end stretcher; the bottom wire and other 
line wires are then fastened in order. 

Do not stretch the wire around a corner, but cut and tie at all 
angles sharper than 45°. A good pair of wire cutters or pliers are 
essential. Special fence pliers in one of several forms may be obtained 
and are very convenient (fig. 43). Ordinarily not more than one 
roll, or 40 rods, is stretched at one time, and the brace posts are set 
up at these points. Somewhat more skill is required to stretch 
longer lines, but lines up to one-half mile have been successfully 
handled. Anchor posts and some labor and time in traveling back 
and forth may be saved by stretching between the ends of two rolls 
after the fencing has been properly lined up, leaving sufficient wire 
in the center to properly splice the rolls (p. 41). 

The woven wire is then fastened to each line post and the barbed 
wire unrolled and stretched. When two or more lines are to be used, 



Figure 43. — A combination tool handy for fencing, consisting of a plier, staple 
puller, wire cutter, splicer, and emergency hammer. 

a reel or sled is convenient for unrolling two wires at a time. A cart 
may be easier to move about, but the sled is somewhat safer to handle. 

LIGHTNING PROTECTION 

Many cattle are killed by lightning carried along a fence. In areas 
subjected to frequent thunderstorms it is an excellent practice to 
ground the fence line about every 40 rods, particularly in fence 
corners, where cattle are inclined to collect. Grounding a wire fence 
in the vicinity of high-voltage power lines is a safety precaution that 
should not be neglected. When steel posts are used, the fence is 
automatically grounded. The best way to ground a fence on wood 
posts is to insert steel posts or pipes at intervals along a line. The 
single wire sometimes stapled vertically to the post is short-lived and 
generally useless as a lightning conductor. 

GATES AND ENTRANCES 

The location of the gate is of more importance than its construction, 
since it must be convenient to fields or barn lot, and safe if next to a 
• highway. The choice of a gate and its construction depend upon 
its use. 

The entrance to a roadway must be well-drained to prevent erosion 
and to permit all-weather use ; approaches should have an inner radius 
of not less than 30 feet and up to 40 feet where tractor and trailer 
are used. Square turns with a small turning space may be satisfac- 



FARM FENCES 



45 



tory for horse-drawn vehicles, but easy curves are required for motor 
vehicles (fig. 44). Driving straight ahead is preferable to backing 
and turning. 




Figure 44. — An attractive farm entrance 30 feet or more from the highway. 




Figure 45.— A hidden farm entrance is dangerous to farmer and traveler. 



The importance of a safe entrance off a main highway increases as 
the speed of travel on highways increases. Figure 45 shows a danger- 
ous farm entrance since the highway is hidden from the driver's view 
by trees. A slow-moving vehicle or farm implement in coming out 
of such an entrance may block the highway and endanger both farmer 



46 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



and motorist. Figure 46 shows an improved field entrance with an 
offset extending inward beyond the main fence line. Such an offset 
must extend at least 20 feet back from the highway to provide for 
all implements likely to be used. A level entrance or one on a gentle 
slope is less trying on the brakes and far safer than one located on a 
hillside. 

Culverts may be built large enough for use as cattle underpasses. 
If built solely as a cattle pass they are necessarily expensive but may 
be justified for registered stock. Whether a lane is advantageous de- 
pends upon its cost, the saving of labor, and needed protection of 
livestock. The shape of the farm and position of fields also must be 
considered. The width of pasture lanes may vary from 20 to 50 feet. 
Loss of crop acreage, value of land, amount of livestock and the need 
for such a lane will determine the proper width. Lanes less than a 




Figure 46. — The gate set back about 20 feet from fence line adds to the safety 
of the entrance to field and pasture. 

rod wide are difficult to keep in grass where used regularly by several 
head of stock. 

Figure 47 shows how stock may be safeguarded from traffic by 
means of a lane parallel to the highway. 

A pleasing entrance adds much to the attractiveness of a farmstead. 
A well-designed entrance can do much to advertise the farm and farm 
products. Figures 44 and 59 illustrate these possibilities. Stone, 
brick, and concrete, either separately or in combmation, can be used. 
The choice of design depends in part upon availability of material and 
labor. 

The cheapest form of wire gate (fig. 48) is made of three or four 
strands of wire fastened to a wood or steel bar and held by loops of 
wire at the gatepost. In a timbered section pole gates (fig. 49) may 
be economically used for fields entered infrequently. The sliding 
form of simple board gate is cheap and may be used for cultivated 
fields (fig. 50). Entrances to farmstead and barn lots are much used 
and should have gates that are substantial and easy to operate. 




Figure 49.— A simple pole gate for an isolated pasture. 



48 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



Driveway and entrance gate, may be had in several forms, wood or 
steel, plain or ornamental. The ordinary farm entrance gate is usu- 
ally a swinging gate and may swing either or both ways. 




Figure 50.— A cheap three-board sliding gate operated without hinges. 

A gate that drags on the ground is difficult to operate. A few hours 
of labor spent in the construction and proper hanging of a gate will 
save time and much aggravation. 




Figure 51.— A good farm gate hung on strong hinges. 

The width of the gate will vary with its use, the size of the herd, 
and the kind and width of implements to be passed. The common 
widths are 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 feet. The minimum track width is 
usually 8 feet; turning and entering at the same time calls for greater 



FARM FENCES 



49 



width and a radius not less than 30 feet. Binders and combines or 
loaded hay wagons require widths from 14 to 16 feet for conven- 
ient entrance. Gates from feed lots, etc., usually close from the lot 
side, while entrance gates to farmsteads should swing both ways. 
A single swinging gate (fig. 51) is more convenient to operate than a 
double gate. 

Lightweight gates increase the ease of operation, but gates of too 
light construction are easily broken by stock crowding against them 
or by being struck by automobiles or trucks. Figure 52 illustrates a 
substantial gate guarding an entrance through which large herds must 
pass. The planks on the fence adjacent to the gate lessen the risk of 
damage. > 

The common heights of farm gates are 48, 50, and 55 inches. Steel 
gates often weigh less than 100 pounds; wood gates may weigh 200 
pounds or more. 

< — i 




Figure 52. — A substantial ranch gate with reinforced gateposts. 

BRACING GATES 

The object of bracing is to prevent the sagging and racking of the 
gate. Bolts and well clinched cut nails should be used. Rods or 
wire may be used to prevent racking or to support the weight of the 
gate as shown in figure 53. A well-braced gate is easy to operate and 
is durable. Many braces are poorly placed, and the strength added 
is entirely dependent upon the resistance to slippage of bolts and nails. 
The efficient brace for a gate is a prop (fig. 54), and it gains strength 
by the stiffness of this member as well as firmness of anchorage by 
bolts and nails. The cross braces in figures 52 and 53 decrease rack- 
ing and add stiffness to resist shock from livestock. 

With steel gates distortion may be prevented by using adjustable 
wire ties or rods as in figure 55, A and B. Using steel rods gives a 
more positive grip of hinges and makes the gate lighter. 

Yard and Daddock gates must be substantial to withstand frequent 
shocks from livestock confined in small enclosures (fig. 52). Some con- 
venient forms for use under different circumstances are shown in 
figures 48., 51, and 56. 



50 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 18 3 2 




4 r t*'/z 1 i I- 3 '-°" Cotter- 

*®==^™«* ° ° i° c 

-*iz>- ^ ground * ^ 

HOOK — T ^> Bo,t 

HINGE ] " e y e 



✓^''carriage bolts and washers 



Hinge blocks 




I'Wfiller 



SECTION 

a- a 



Figure 54.— Detailed plan of gate. 



FARM FENCES 



51 





52 FARMERS' BULLETIN 1832 

CATTLE GUARDS AND AUTOMATIC GATES 

Cattle guards and automatic gates are very handy for use with 
automobiles and trucks. Cattle guards, as shown in figures 57 and 




Figure 56. — A simple board gate with angle-iron braces and overhead wire ties 

for gateposts. 




Figure 57. — A cattle guard of iron pipe. The pipes may be removed for clean- 
ing. Wire guards are sufficient for sheep and goats. 

58, are very useful for automobiles and may be built strong enough 
for trucks by using discarded steel rails or small I-beams. Pipes vary 
from 1% to 2 inches in diameter and are spaced from 6 to 9 inches 
center to center. Too-wide spacing causes severe jolting and may 



FARM FENCES 



53 



bring about damage to the supports from loaded trucks. The grated 
area is from 4 to 6 feet wide and forms an effective barrier for 




Figure 58. — A goatproof cattle guard with metal shields. The central opening 
permits cleaning and discourages goats and sheep from crossing. 

the larger livestock. Goats and sheep will walk through if a smooth 
path 2 inches or more in width is provided. They are effectively re- 
stricted by wire or metal wings, as shown in figures 57 and 58. 




Figure 59. — An attractive entrance with an automatic swinging gate which is 
easily operated from an automobile by a pull rod. 



The open central space (fig. 58) and the V-shaped covering on the 
timbers are further obstacles respected by goats. The pit 12 to 18 
inches below the grate or bars is part of the guard. The question of 



54 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 183 2 



the drainage of this pit is important. If mosquitos or weeds become 
troublesome, kerosene, crankcase oil, or chemicals may be used. The 




Figure 60. — An automatic sliding gate operated from the automobile. 



bars should be removable so that the pit may be cleaned occasionally. 
Where pits are too objectionable a raised ramp may be used, but a 
level ramp is usually preferred. 




Figure 61. — A bumper gate partially open; it may be locked open for the free 
passage of cattle or trucks. The gate swings from a chain or cable and closes 
by gravity. 

Automatic gates for automobiles or other vehicles are made in 
three forms — swinging, tilting, and sliding. They may be operated by 
a pull rod, as shown in figures 59 and 60, or by a lever or cam operated 



FARM FENCES 



55 



by a car or truck. The bumper or swinging gate shown in figure 61 
may be pushed open by cars. Any form of vehicle or livestock may 
pass through this gate when open, whereas a second gate is necessary 
when the cattle-guard form (fig. 58) is used. Such gates swing from a, 
central support of chains or cable and are very convenient under some 
conditions, but fenders, door handles, and truck bodies as well as the 
gate may suffer damage when the gate is carelessly or unskillfully 
operated. 

The balanced or weighted gate offers some advantages since it is 
easily operated and less substantial gateposts may be used. An 
early form used a rock weight on an extended arm of the top rail of the 
gate. Figure 62 shows an improved modern form, which is balanced 
and is adjustable with respect to height. This permits the passage of 
small livestock underneath or its use over snowdrifts. 




Figure 62. — A balanced gate adjustable as to height shown in raised position. 
Dotted lines show the position of the gate and weight when lowered. 

GATEPOSTS AND HARDWARE 

Gateposts should be substantial, usually not less than 10 or 12 
inches m diameter and should be set in the ground at least 4 feet and 
firmly anchored. Gateposts that creep and spread apart cause much 
difficulty with gate latches. Frost action, gate weight, and fence 
tension all combine to produce movement of gateposts. Gateposts 
may be permanently tied together, as in figure 56, to prevent creeping. 
When gateposts are set they should, at least temporarily, be tied 
together and so held until firmly tamped or set. The chain used in 
figure 63 insures a safe lock and permits the use of a padlock when 
desired. Large snaps made with rust-resistant bolts in place of pad- 
locks are sometimes used. 

The use of lag screws for hinge anchors is unsatisfactory, particu- 
larly with heavy gates. Water causes rotting and weakening of the 
wood, permitting the screws to pull out. Hook bolts extending through 
the post are more satisfactory. Unauthorized entrance by lifting the 



56 



FARMERS' BULLETIN 18 32 



gate from its hinges may be prevented by turning the top iiook down. 
The strap lunges shown in figure 52 are extra long, and all sharp edges 
are flattened and beveled so as to avoid injury to livestock. The 
simple hook shown in figure 54 may be used when the gate opens one 
way. In many cases a gate latch in the form of a hook and bolt may 
be made to support the outer end of the gate and thus reduce the 
strain on gateposts. A supporting block under the corner of the gate 
may also be used. 




Figure 63. — A sliding gate latch notched to make it stock proof. Padlock and 
chain prevent theft of stock. 



MAINTENANCE OF FENCES 

Maintenance is an important item to consider in choosing a fence 
for a given condition. The total cost of fencing includes interest, 
repairs, depreciation, interest on the land occupied by the fence row, 
and the cost of cleaning fencerows and keeping down weeds. Cheap 
materials and cheap construction lead to high cost of maintenance and 
a short-lived fence. Annual depreciation of fences lasting 20 years is 
only 5 percent, whereas if the life of the fence is 15 years the deprecia- 
tion is 6.6 percent. In permanent fences good grades of material and 
good workmanship are cheapest in the long run. Studies made in 
the Northeastern States and the Corn Belt reveal that the annual cost 
of maintenance may vary from 4 to 6 cents per rod of wire fencing, or 
from about 50 to 60 cents an acre. These data represent approximate 
averages and may be widely altered by specific conditions. 



FARM FENCES 



57 



Spring and fall are the most favorable seasons to inspect fences, 
drive down posts heaved by winter frosts, repair, relocate, or abolish 
fences. In moving a fence line the removal and re-use of the wire or 
disposal is often a problem. Old barbed wire may be rolled on old 
barrels. Wire that is unsatisfactory for re-use may be placed in 
ditches or fastened to stakes to decrease soil erosion, but in any case 
should not be left in fence corners or any place where it may be a 
menace to livestock. 

The re-use of fence posts in relocating fences is often determined by 
the difficulty of removing sound posts. Post pullers may be pur- 




Figure 64. — Suggestions for pulling fence posts: A, A home-made wood-frame 
post puller; B, a steel form of puller; C, a form for pulling a post with a team 
or tractor. 

chased, or a puller similar to figure 64 may be made. A tractor or a 
team of horses with a chain and pole is often useful. 

Along highways the soil sometimes erodes and slides into the ditch, 
making it necessary to shift the fence line. The cooperation of the 
highway authorities in sodding or planting vines or shrubs to reduce 
soil washing will aid in such cases. The use of tile in place of ditches 
is also helpful. In other cases there appears to be little help outside 
of moving the fence back from the property line. 

It is always helpful to have the highway fence lines seeded to grass 
or hay crops which keep down weeds and can be mowed easily. Road 
engineers now pay more attention to leaving banks so that they may 
be taken care of easily. Careless smokers often start fires which cause 
heavy losses of fences and crops. Many farmers plow a strip several 
furrows wide along the fence line as a fireguard. 



ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
WHEN THIS PUBLICATION WAS LAST PRINTED 



Secretary of Agriculture _ . _ Henry A. Wallace. 

Under Secretary M. L. Wilson. 

Assistant Secretary Harry L. Brown. 

Director of Information M. S. Eisenhower. 

Director of Extension Work C. W. W t arburton. 

Director of Finance W. A. Jump. 

Director of Personnel Roy F. Hendrickson. 

Director of Research James T. Jardine. 

Director of Marketing and Regulatory Work-. A. G. Black. 

Solicitor Mastin G. White. 

Land Use Coordinator _ _ .. . . M.S.Eisenhower. 

Office of Plant and Operations Arthur B. Thatcher, Chief. 

Office of C. C. C. Activities _ Fred W. Morrell, Chief 

Office of Experiment Stations _ James T. Jardine, Chief. 

Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations Leslie A. Wheeler, Director. 

Agricultural Adjustment Administration _ R. M. Evans, Administrator . 

Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engi- Henry G. Knight, Chief, 
neering. 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics __ . _ H. R. Tolley, Chief. 

Agricultural Marketing Service __ C. W r . Kitchen, Chief. 

Bureau of Animal Industry _ John R. Mohler, Chief. 

Commodity Credit Corporation _ Carl B. Robbins,. President. 

Commodity Exchange Administration J. W. T. Duvel, Chief. 

Bureau of Dairy Industry . .. __ O. E. Reed, Chief. 

Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine _ Lee A. Strong, Chief. 

Farm Security Administration W. W. Alexander, Administrator. 

Federal Crop Insurance Corporation- _ Leroy K. Smith, Manager. 

Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation Milo R. Perkins, President. 

Food and Drug Administration _._ _ Walter G. Campbell, Chief. 

Forest Service - _ Ferdinand A. Silcox, Chief. 

Bureau of Home Economics _ Louise Stanley, Chief. 

Library Claribel R. Barnett, Librarian. 

Division of Marketing and Marketing Agree- Milo R. Perkins, In Charge, 
ments. 

Bureau of Plant Industry K. C. Auchter, Chief. 

Rural Electrification Administration Harry Slattery, Administrator. 

Soil Conservation Service . _ H. H. Bennett, Chief. 

Sugar Division . .__ _ .. _ . ... Joshua Bernhardt, Chief. 

Weather Bureau ........... Francis W. Reichelderfer, Chief. 



This circular is a contribution from 

Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Eng ; - Henry G. Knight, Chief, 
neering. 

Division of Farm Structures Research _ . Wallace Ashby, Chief. 
58 



U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1940 



Price 10 cent?? 



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